Top Exercises to Do When You Have a Knee Injury

by Fit After Fifty
Black and white photo with red highlight on knee area

Many adults struggle from knee pain due to putting too much weight on the knee or an injury. Of the 100 million Americans who suffer from chronic pain, knee pain is the second most common cause. But despite knee pain, exercise is important for your overall health and well being, no matter what your age, and there are ways to exercise without making your knee pain worse. In some cases, you can even reduce your chronic pain.

Before you exercise with a knee injury, be sure to check with your doctor. As long as he/she feels it’s okay, exercising is the best thing you can do to support your knee better, strengthen your muscles and maintain mobility. You should start slow to avoid injuring your knee further, and be sure to practice proper form.


Warming up your muscles is key to avoiding injury when you exercise, regardless of whether you have a knee injury or not. Some good warm-up techniques when you have knee pain include riding a stationary bike, taking a brisk walk, or doing a combination of wall push-ups and calf raises.

Leg Raises

An excellent way to improve the strength of the muscles that affect your knee is to do straight leg raises, since it puts little to no strain on your knee. To do this exercise, lie flat on your back and bend one knee so that your foot is flat on the floor. Keep the other leg straight and lift it to the height of your bent knee, then slowly lower it to the floor. Repeat several times and then switch legs, doing three sets per leg.

Reverse Leg Raises

Kill two birds with one stone and exercise your hamstring along with your butt muscles by doing reverse leg raises. Lying flat on your stomach, lift one leg (straight) up to the ceiling, keeping your toe pointed. Hold it there for a few seconds, then lower and repeat 10-15 times before switching legs. If you feel back pain, reduce the height to which you’re raising your leg. Add ankle weights to increase the challenge, when you’re ready.

Calf Raises

You can do these from anywhere – the office, living room, or even out in the park! Stand facing a piece of furniture or a handrail for balance, and slowly go up on your tip-toes, raising your heels as high as they can go. Then, lower them slowly and do three sets of about a dozen. You can make this more difficult by lifting one foot off of the floor slightly, putting all of your weight on the other foot.


High-impact exercise such as running or aerobics are usually too intense for those with knee problems, but you still need to get some cardio in! Go for gentle, knee-friendly cardio options such as elliptical machines, swimming or water aerobics.

It’s certainly possible to get in a good workout, exercise the muscles that affect your knee, and stay fit without making your knee pain worse. These exercises may even help reduce your knee pain and improve muscle strength to lessen the effects of the injury.

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